Of Basements and Bells…A Christmas Tale

In my parents’ basement is an old, lovingly worn copy of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express, complete with a cassette tape and a silver sleigh bell.

Santa’s first gift of Christmas.

Anyone who’s read the story is familiar with the magic of this bell. When the little boy finds it under his tree, after nearly losing it through a hole in his pocket, he and his sister marvel at its pure, clear music.

But his parents can’t hear anything…they think it’s broken. As the years go by, his sister stops hearing it too.

For some reason, this always gets me. I mean scares me way down deep in that childhood place that never wants to be told I can’t come back to Neverland or Narnia. I do NOT want to be the one who can no longer hear the bell!

And every single year at Christmas, I dig through my parents’ boxes of decorations, find the book, unwrap the bell from its coverings and ring it.

I’ve heard its lovely crystalline melody every time.

And, so, this is my wish for you. That you, too, hold on to that belief, that magic, that inner innocence in our hearts and souls. The one that lets us dream and dare and hope. The one that sings when we put pen to page or fingers to keyboard.

May it always ring true for you!


  1. Very nice post :)

    Since I was 5 or 6, my family's tradition was to go out together every December and buy one ornament each. Every year I open the boxes to decorate the tree, I get flooded with memories. For every one, from the blue Care Bear, to the sparkly unicorn, to the stuffed mouse, I remember standing in the store mulling over every ornament and finally deciding which one was perfect at that moment in my life.

    I can read my history through each ornament, for each Christmas.

    Thankfully, I have converted the husband to this tradition and almost every year that we have been married, we have chosen an ornament together, often on a trip/holiday.

    ...though our tree does look a little strange and is getting pretty overloaded ;)

  2. That is such a lovely tradition! It brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing :)

  3. Aloha Nicole, and Merry Christmas, too!

    (By the way, thanks for the kind comments on my guest post over at David P. King's Blog... I just noticed it:)

  4. 1000th Monkey - I love that tradition! Hope you add to it this year with more wonderful ornaments.

    Miss Cole - Aww, thanks! Have a wonderful Christmas.

    Mark - Aloha! And you're welcome - loved the guest post.